About the Artist
James Carroll Beckwith was an American painter whose powerful portraits, murals and paintings of historical monuments are part of permanent museum collections around the world. He signed his work Carroll Beckwith.
Early Life and Education
James Carroll Beckwith was born in Hannibal, Missouri in 1852, and raised in Chicago, where his father opened a wholesale grocery business.
At the age of sixteen, Beckwith attended the Chicago Academy of Design, where he was taught painting by Walter Shirlaw.
Beckwith left Chicago after The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. He moved to New York and studied at the National Academy of Design, with Lemuel Wilmarth, founder the the Art Students League of New York.
Beckwith traveled to Paris in 1873, where he remained for five years, during which time he studied drawing with Adolphe Yvon and painting with Carolus-Duran.
Carolus-Duran was commissioned to paint a mural for the Palace Luxembourg and employed Beckwith and another gifted student, John Singer Sargent, to help him. Beckwith painted Sargent’s head on two of the figures, and Sargent painted Beckwith’s head on one of the figures in the mural.
Career and Family Life,
When Beckwith returned to New York, in 1878, he was hired to teach at the Art Students League. One of his students was Violet Oakley, the first American woman to receive a public mural commission. He painted portraits and historical monuments and his reputation, as a masterful artist, grew. He painted Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and other notables.
Beckwith married Bertha Hall in 1887, who accompanied him on his trips to paint murals commissioned in Paris. Beckwith lived in Italy from 1910 through 1914, where he painted monuments and landscapes.
Beckwith died in New York in 1917 at the age of 65.
Beckwith kept detailed diaries throughout his life, beginning at the age of nineteen. The diaries, sketchbooks and letters are held by the National Academy of Design in New York. His work is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian and other major museums worldwide.
James Carroll Beckwith Self Portrait
Carolas-Duran The Triumph of Maria de Medici 1875-1878
Portrait of Mark Twain 1890
James Carroll Beckwith L’Empereur 1912
James Carroll Beckwith The Letter 1910